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OTTUMWA — The strongest tornado in Iowa thus far in 2019 hit Van Buren County, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.

The EF3 tornado touched down northeast of Cantril and stayed on the ground for 17 minutes. It carved a path that stretched 7.5 miles. One house and a hunting cabin were destroyed. Experts estimated winds of 140 mph with the tornado.

The Cantril tornado also illustrates that powerful tornadoes need not be large ones. The widest that one grew was just 100 yards. It was one of six confirmed tornadoes in Iowa on May 27.

There have been 28 confirmed tornadoes in the state so far in 2019. Only two have been rated stronger than EF1, which indicates maximum winds of 110 mph.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale rates tornadoes from EF0, with winds of at least 65 mph, to EF5. Tornadoes rated at the top end of the scale have winds in excess of 200 mph.

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